I might actually need help

Recovering from the holidays while kicking off a new year at a veterinary practice can be a daunting task. Practice owner Jenn Galvin offers some encouragement.

By Jenn Galvin

Holidays were made for sharing love, food, gifts, and—unfortunately—illness.  I recently found myself on the receiving end of a nasty bug that left me feeling pretty bad, with tissues piled high and my energy levels low.  

I don’t admit defeat easily. After all, this was just a cold, and I am a big, badass practice owner! I can handle this . . . right? But everything from taking my first dose of cold medicine to putting on my shoes felt like a marathon. It was time to toss aside my superhero cape and embrace my human side, as this cold was about to teach me some valuable lessons.   

Acknowledge your limits 

The first step in asking for help is realizing we’re not invincible. We are all human and it’s OK to admit when we’ve hit a roadblock and need a little assistance. I often overestimate what I can get done at the top of my game, never mind when I’m down for the count. It’s better to look at a situation and put realistic expectations on ourselves instead of being disappointed when we can’t hit impossible goals. 

Check your pride at the door 

We veterinary professionals put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform. We are a bunch of A-type, competitive personalities who will not give in—but trust me, there are times when it’s best to let that pride take a backseat. There’s no shame in asking a coworker to cover a shift or delegating tasks when you’re under the weather. Swallow that pride, even if it’s a bit like trying to pill a cat and ask for a helping hand. 

Create an open dialogue 

Communication is critical in all things. People aren’t mind readers and won’t be able to guess what you need. Be vulnerable and let your team know what’s happening—the good, the bad, and the sniffly. Creating an open dialogue sets the stage for a supportive work environment where asking for help is as normal as discussing the latest viral cat video from The Kiffness. Share your struggles: You’ll be surprised at how ready your team is to help. 

Be specific with requests 

I mention this one right after talking about communication for a reason. When seeking help, being clear about what you need is crucial. Instead of a vague, “Can someone help me?” try something more specific like, “Can someone cover my afternoon shift, or can someone complete this pet food order? I need to go home.” Specific requests make it easier for your team to assist, ensuring tasks are tackled efficiently. 

Appreciate the support 

When team members rally to your aid, remember to show them gratitude. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in fostering a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. Show your appreciation, whether it’s for a colleague covering your shift, a friend bringing you soup, or a spouse handling the home front. It’s even better if you return the favor when they are having a hard time or sick day. 

Learn from the experience 

Every sniffle and sneeze offers a lesson. Take a moment to reflect on how you handled asking for help and what you can do differently in the future. Did you communicate effectively? Were your requests clear? Did you appreciate those who offered a hand? Learning from these experiences helps you grow and sets a positive example for the team you work with. 

As veterinary professionals, we pride ourselves on caring for others—both the furry and the not-so-furry. However, it’s crucial to remember that caring for ourselves is just as important. So, the next time you feel under the weather or overwhelmed, it’s OK to stop and ask for help. Your team is there for you and ready to lend a hand. Who knows? You just might be setting an example that it’s OK for other team members to care for themselves in the future.   


Jenn Galvin owns and manages Advanced Animal Care, a companion animal hospital located in Arizona. She has been in the veterinary industry for over 25 years, and she is a true nerd at heart, with a passion for staff development, inventory, and veterinary financials. 

Photo credit: © Mykola Sosiukin E+ via Getty Images Plus  

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 




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